Posted April 12th 2013 at 8:10 am by
in Fresh Eye Friday

A Stake in Central Square

Fresh Eye Friday: A Stake in Central Square

A few weeks ago I interviewed a local landlord, Mr. Barrett. Our conversation completely shifted my view of Central Square. I have lived in Central for about 8 months. I rent a house with five other graduate students, all of us studying at MIT. As a City Planning student, I’ve learned that it takes a keen eye to notice the intricacies and subtleties of a physical place. I’ve been honing my ability to determine which attributes of a space make it desirable (or undesirable) for years now. But as Mr. Barrett was ranting about the old Quest Diagnostics building [“What is blood testing place doing in the middle of Central Square? Why is there general office space on Mass. Ave? Why? It’s just silly!”] I was having an epiphany: A person’s stake in a place is what nuances the way he sees it.

Fresh Eye Friday: A Stake in Central Square

As a renter, my stake in Central Square is low and short-termed. Therefore, my evaluation of its strengths and weaknesses is largely limited to what I can see now. Mr. Barrett, on the other hand, owns several properties in the area and sees Central Square for its future.

Mr. Barrett remembers looking, disgusted, at Cambridge from the Boston side of the Charles River and thinking, “No way!” But now he’s been in Central for twenty years. While I’ve barely noticed Quest Diagnostics, Mr. Barrett sees a temporary eyesore with huge potential, especially considering that its lease is ending in just a few months.

Lawrence Barriner II is an MIT urban planning graduate student interested in the impacts urban agriculture can have on community development/revitalization.

This post is part of the Fresh Eye Friday series. Learn how to submit your own Fresh Eye.

* Correction: The original post stated that Mr. Barrett was the author’s current landlord. In fact, Mr. Barrett is not the author’s landlord.

2 responses to “A Stake in Central Square”

  1. Hugh Russell says:

    Your landlord should be happy to hear that the Quest properties have been bought by Twining Properties who have a good track record in Kendall Sq for building housing.

    We, the Cambridge Planning Board, will be working on the Central Sq zoning in May and would be happy to hear any more comments and observations you may have.

  2. Carol S. Paul says:

    Your landlord has to register your rental as a lodging house since you just said that there are 5 of you living there and sharing common areas. The city regulation says: Lodging House License

    Issued by: License Commission

    Governed By: Massachusetts General Law ch. 140 sec. 22 – 32 & Cambridge Regulations

    Fee: $175 hearing and newspaper advertising fee. The license fee is $24 for the first four rooms total and $24 for each additional room

    Applies to a residence where four or more unrelated people share a kitchen and/or a bath.